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Men on the Move: Thom Collins

By A.D. Amorosi, Kristin Detterline, Sarah Jordan and Robert Strauss | April 3, 2019 | People

Thom Collins


WHAT’S NOW Expanding school programs in Philadelphia

WHAT’S NEXT The June exhibit I Do Not Know What It Is I Am Like: The Art of Bill Viola

There’s no denying the professorial vibe of Thom Collins, the Neubauer Family executive director and president of the Barnes Foundation. Maybe it’s his infectious enthusiasm about art or his precise erudition on a sweeping array of topics. “It’s the opportunity to learn that energizes me,” says Collins, “from artists, business people, educators, colleagues, the public...” And those tortoiseshell eyeglasses he wears don’t hurt either. But, Collins, who has led the Barnes since 2015, has replaced the institution’s stuffy reputation with a vibrant inclusivity. He and his staff have made the Barnes a place to gather, learn and exchange ideas. Consistent with Dr. Albert Barnes’ commitment to diversity, inclusion and social justice, Collins is spreading the institution’s educational mission to community hubs in West and South Philadelphia, and to K-12 programs that annually serve more than 10,000 students. Collins is equally proud of the world-class special exhibitions that began in 2012 —don’t miss this summer’s survey of beguiling work by video artist Bill Viola—and provide a reason to keep returning to the Barnes. In support of these initiatives is a recently announced $100 million capital campaign to sustain the organization’s growth. Talking in Annenberg Court just steps away from the reported $25 billion Barnes collection, Collins says, “I’m grateful to be a part of such a healthy and significant institution in the city.”

Photography by: Photograph by Michael Perez